Avodah Mailing List
Volume 06 : Number 124
Monday, February 12 2001
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2001 20:29:16 -0500
From: Micha Berger <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Defining Bitachon
From a translation of R' Avigdor Nebenzahl's Mon night
sichah at Yeshivat haKotel. (To subscribe, send email to:
: How do we define bitachon? The "baalei Mussar" claim that whatever one
: wishes for, if one has full confidence in Hashem, his needs will be
: fulfilled. There are countless stories of people with a high level of
: bitachon whose needs were indeed fulfilled. There is a story told of
: a person who needed to get to Moscow but did not have the means with
: which to purchase a ticket. Incredibly, a sum of money came from Heaven
: via a source he did not expect. What level of bitachon must one be on
: in order that Hashem answer one's needs in this fashion? We can gain
: some insight into this question from the following incident. R' Yisrael
: M'Salant once delivered a drasha in Shule where he stated that if one
: needs ten thousand rubles and has complete bitachon, Hashem will deliver
: the money to him. A tradesman attending the sermon remarked to himself:
: "Why the need to work, I will sit in the Beit Midrash all day praying
: and learning. I have sufficient bitachon that Hashem will grant me ten
: thousand rubles". So he did, he left his work and began learning all
: day in the Beit Midrash. The days turned into weeks and the weeks to
: months, yet the ten thousand rubles never appeared. He was finally down
: to his last penny when he turned to R' Yisrael in desperation asking
: why his request was not answered. R' Yisrael responded that if he has
: total bitachon his requested will be granted some time in the future.
: If, however, he has no patience to wait he will make him a deal - R'
: Yisrael will pay him five thousand rubles now in exchange for the ten
: thousand rubles when it comes to him. The tradesman was overjoyed and
: immediately responded in the affirmative. R' Yisrael responded: "go back
: to work! If you are willing to exchange ten thousand rubles for a mere
: five thousand, this is a sign that you do not truly believe you will be
: granted the ten thousand - if so it will never come" (see Tnuat HaMussar
: volume one, chapter 27). Bitachon implies certainty, the Jewish people
: should have been certain that Hashem would save them - from the way they
: spoke to Moshe it is clear that they were not on this level.
: The Chazon Ish rejected this approach claiming that perhaps it is a
: fitting one for Gedolim, but not for the general population. Bitachon, he
: claimed, does not mean that I have confidence that whatever I want Hashem
: will grant. Do I really know what is good for me? I may feel that the
: best thing for my spiritual growth is to move to Moscow. Am I sure that
: this is the right decision? Hashem may feel that I will grow much more in
: Warsaw. Obviously we can only act based on our assessment of the situation
: and one who truly believes that he can lead a life of Kiddush Hashem in
: Moscow must go there, but do we have the right to dictate to Hashem what
: He should do, and thus force Him to bring us to Moscow? Perhaps Hashem
: knows that I am better off in Warsaw. For this reason in the blessing
: for Rosh Chodesh we ask for: "chayim sheyemalei Hashem mishalot libenu
: letova". Do we know what "the good is"? Only Hashem does.
: Many wealthy Jews elected to remain in Poland while the poor ones opted
: for a better future in America or Israel. Those who remained behind
: were thinking to themselves "thank G-d we can afford to stay, those
: poor unfortunate souls have no means of support". Not long afterwards
: it became quite clear who was fortunate and who was unfortunate. Did
: Yoseph know what was in store for him when he was thrown into the pit,
: sold into slavery and imprisoned? In the final result it was quite clear
: that it was all for the best.
: The Gemara relates a story of a man who wished to set sail on a ship.
: On the way he got a thorn in his foot and as a result of having to remove
: it, he missed the boat. At the time this man was very upset, only later
: did he discover that the boat had sunk at sea. The man, of course, was
: then very grateful to Hashem for sticking him with the thorn and making
: him arrive too late for the journey. R' Akiva too taught his students:
: "kol de-avid Rachmana letav avid" (Brachot 60b), for we have no way of
: knowing what is good for us and what is not. How then can we expected
: to dictate to Hashem what He should do?
: What then is the Chazon Ish's definition of bitachon? "haemun she-ein
: mikreh baolam, vechol hanaasa tachat hashemesh hakol behachraza meito
: Yitbarach" (Enumah UBitachon 2:1). The Ramban from the end of Parshat
: Bo that we quoted last week tells us something very similar: "shenaamim
: bechol dvarein umikreinu shekulam nissim, ein bahem teva uminhago shel
: olam ... hakol begzerat Elyon". There are no laws of nature, everything is
: Heavenly decreed and we must realize that "whatever the Merciful One does,
: He does for the best". We do not always understand immediately why this
: is for the best - at times the positive effect may only be felt by our
: children or grandchildren. Our task is to believe that if Hashem wishes
: it to be, then it must be for the good.
Micha Berger When you come to a place of darkness,
email@example.com you do not chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org You light a candle.
(973) 916-0287 - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l
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Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2001 20:33:21 -0500
From: Micha Berger <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: On Bitterness
From the email list of the Torah Center of Deal, NJ (a Syrian kehillah):
: Taste Test
: "They came to Marah and could not drink of the waters of Marah for
: they were bitter. and G-d instructed him regarding a tree which he cast
: into the waters, and the waters became sweet" (Shemot 15:23,25)
: The Ba'al Shem Tob interprets the first verse with the pronoun "they"
: referring to the Israelites rather than the waters. The verse now reads,
: "They could not drink the waters of Marah because they, the Israelites,
: were bitter." In psychiatric practice this is common. A person who is
: depressed may complain that everything he eats has a bitter taste. In
: these instances the bitterness is not in the food, but in one's taste
: This is even more common in one's attitude and interpretation of
: happenings in life than with taste. There are indeed some unfortunate
: occurrences in life that are objectively bitter. But there are many
: times when we judge things to be bitter when they are not so in reality,
: and it is only because of a distorted perception that we consider them
: bitter. Such misperceptions may often be corrected if we perceive our
: experiences through the perspective of Torah philosophy rather than
: through that of prevailing cultural attitudes and values.
: The Torah is an ess hayim (tree of life), of which it is said that those
: who support Torah will achieve happiness (Mishlei 3:18). Many things in
: life may be unpleasant, but our reaction and adjustment to them can vary,
: and we may be able to accept adversity with serenity. With the guidance
: of Torah, much bitterness can be averted. G-d showed Moshe the tree,
: the ess hayim of Torah , through whose perspective the bitter waters
: can be sweetened. (Living Each Week)
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Date: Sun, 11 Feb 2001 15:50:14 +0200 (IST)
From: Nehemiah Klein <email@example.com>
Subject: HaRav Steinberger's Shiur #5761-3
Did Rebbe Actually Write Down the Mishna? - Part I
On the surface, Rebbe is considered the author of the Mishna - a fact
that implies simply that, like anyone who publishes a book, he wrote
the Mishna. This would be the simple meaning of the Rambam's statement:
"Rabenu HaKadosh compiled ("chiber") the Mishna". This interpretation is
proven also from the following paragraph: "In every generation (before
Rebbe - YAS) the Head of Beit Din ... was writing for himself privately
... and likewise everybody was writing for himself ... and so it has
been always till Rabenu HaKadosh, etc." If previously everybody had
been writing for himself, and later a change occurred through Rebbe's
compilation of the Mishna - then it means that Rebbe himself wrote his
book for the public.
Nevertheless, this summary, as simple as it might sound, is quite
problematic not only because of certain external sources (based on
facts and points in the Talmud) but also because of other implications
that appear in the Rambam itself. We will start with the Rambam.
He explains the reason for the innovation (that Rebbe's project - the
Mishna - constituted) based on Rebbe's recognition of a bleak future:
"Diminishing numbers of students, a new era of persecutions and the
expansion of the Roman Empire and an increase in its power". This seems
to be the Rambam's interpretation to the Gemara (Gittin 60a): It (the
Oral Law - YAS) was not meant to be written down (so, how come, asks the
Gemara, the sages - R' Yochanan and R' Shimon ben Lakish - used a written
text of Aggadah in Shabbat. If such a book constitutes a violation of the
law, and one is forbidden to study it, it is "Muktze" on Shabbat - YAS).
The Gemara answers that it was not possible to continue avoiding writing
down the Oral Law, therefore it became permitted. This is based on the
pasuk (Psalms 119:126) "There are times when things have to be done in
honor of Hashem because the Torah is being violated". The commentary
of Rashi (both in Tehillim and in Gittin there) based on the context
there is that this verse teaches us about permission to uproot even a
Biblical commandment in certain critical conditions. [i.e. Eliyahu HaNavi
brought an offering to Hashem on Mount Carmel, despite the fact that the
Temple in Jerusalem functioned and there is a strict prohibition against
sacrificing elsewhere. It was permitted only because a prophet can uproot
even such a prohibition - provided that the following criteria are met:
it is only temporary, is absolutely necessary to strengthen the Torah
and the belief in it is executed by a certified - muchzak prophet like
Eliyahu or a Beit Din (see Rambam, Yesodei HaTorah 9:3, about Beit Din.
See Tur Choshen Mishpat Beit Yoseph and Darkei Moshe, in the beginning
of Chapter 2 in Hilchot Dayanim)].
The Rambam does not mention here the pasuk (from Tehillim) and does
not seem to apply here the concept of Beit Din uprooting Din Torah
(permitting writing down the Oral Law). This is despite the fact that
the Rambam generally does apply the concept of the prophet's power to
uproot Halacha to that of Beit Din (Hilchot Mamrim Chapter II, 9, albeit,
the Rambam does not mention even there our pasuk in Tehillim like Rashi).
Obviously the Gemara in Gittin, in his eyes, is not the source for Rebbe's
historical and novel decision. The logical conclusion is that we are
dealing with two separate subjects: in Gittin - the issue is writing
down the Oral Law. Here, in the case of the Mishna, the issue is the
organization of the whole material of the Oral Law into clear version
and constructing a codex of "Sedarim" and Tractates. But even after
this, the Mishna remained an oral text but not a written publication.
Rebbe did formulate the text in his clear words, and people would recite
from then on the Oral Law verbatim as a text and yet, no law had been
violated. Therefore, the Rambam did not revert to the Halachic concept
of uprooting the law by Beit Din of Rebbe, neither did he quote the
pasuk mentioned in Gittin. All he did was ask an innocent question,
he did not pose a problem (not a "Kushya", just a "She-elah") - what
did incite Rebbe to come up with the novel idea of the codification of
the Oral Law? His answer is based on the special historical forecast
Rebbe envisioned. The Gemara in Gittin dealt with a problem: how could
the Sages violate the prohibition of writing down the Oral Law? There,
properly, the answer relates to their authority to change a prohibition.
However, even if Rashi seems to view the writing down of the Oral Law as
an uprooting of a Biblical Law - the Rambam (who does not mention this
problem in the context of Rebbe's Mishna) could possibly disagree with
that. Forbidding writing of the Oral Law never actually appears among
the Taryag Mitzvot. The Gemara just says that we lack the permission to
do (Gittin, there and in Amud b, also in Temurah 14b, etc.). Therefore,
the application of the authority of Beit Din to uproot the Torah is not
necessary in this case, according to the Rambam. All we need to know
is the basis for having a permission to change a practice sanctified
previously. And indeed, the whole issue of keeping the Oral Tradition
transmitted orally is just a matter of sanctifying the original authentic
ways of spreading the Torah. Just as there is an obligation "Kenetinata" -
as it was given, referring to the proper ways of learning Torah in other
matters (i.e. an impure person should not learn Torah before a ritual
immersion in water, just like Bnei Yisrael did in the time of receiving
the Torah, Brachot 21b; or we need three people to stand around the Sefer
Torah when it is being read, just as it was in Sinai: Hashem, Moshe,
and Bnei Yisrael - Tosafot Yom Tov, based on Yerushalmi) - so there
is an obligation to spread the Oral Law orally and the Written Law in
writing. But this is not a "Mitzvat Assei" or "Lo Taaseh" - positive or
negative commandment of the 613 Mitzvot. We are dealing here just with a
recommendation how to teach Torah in the best and most effective way -
modeled after the ways Hashem had taught us in Sinai. Thus, when the
danger of forgetting the Oral Law unless it is recorded in writing, became
real - Chazal could easily decide that it was time to make a change and
write down the Oral Law. From then on, the best way to teach it became
different, but it does not constitute an uprooting of a prohibition.
This can explain also the missing requirement in this case of the
temporariness. Neither a prophet, nor a Beit Din can make an eternal
change. And here, the writing of the Oral Law became a permanent change.
but since it is not an uprooting, this requirement was irrelevant.
Nevertheless, there is a very big proof to substantiate the assumption
that Rebbe never had actually written the Mishna. Neither the Gemara in
Gittin nor any source from Chazal, which deals with the prohibition to
write down the Oral Law, ever mentioned the Mishna of Rebbe. If indeed
Rebbe preceded R' Yochanan and Reish Lakish, who are mentioned in Gittin,
there, as writing down the Oral Law, would the Gemara omit such a dramatic
fact? Is not the Mishna the whole basis for the Gemara, so how could
R' Yochanan, being a student of Rebbe, or any Amorah for that matter,
forget Rebbe's project?!
Despite of this great proof, there are clear opinion - among them
"Iggeret Rav Sherira Gaon" (the famous response to the scholars of Kayruan
describing the history of the Oral Tradition) who hold that Rebbe did
write the Mishna. The possible reason for ignoring Rebbe by the Gemara
in Gittin as being the first revolutionary to write down the Oral Law is
that his project was so big and necessary that it certainly justified the
uprooting of the law (not to write the Oral Torah). also Rebbe, being the
great president of the Sanhedrin, controlling every aspect of authority,
rivaled only by Moshe Rabenu, could certainly have the power to do this.
But R' Yochanan and Reish Lakish, who were not even the heads of Beit
Din, and their book was only "Sefer Agadah" - Midrashic literature which
is not that important in stature to justify uprooting the law in order
to preserve it - the Gemara in Gittin thought that they erred in using
such a book.
Ultimately, the Gemara there answers that even this project could justify
the uprooting of the law. [This approach can also explain the fact that
we do not usually base the above mentioned permission to uproot the law
by Beit Din on this pasuk "Et Laasot" in Tehillim. Only here, and maybe
in a few more isolated cases, we find using this pasuk. According to
what we said, it can be explained in the following way: when Sanhedrin
and its head does such a thing, their authority is derived from the
fact that they are the quintessential representatives of the law of
each generation. See Rambam in the beginning of Hilchot Mamrim: "Beit
Din HaGadol are the main embodiment of Torah SheBe-al Peh". But when
we deal with some scholars even if they were Gedolei HaDor - like R'
Yochanan, since they lack after all the authority of Sanhedrin, then
the basis of a permission to change the Torah is the pasuk in Tehillim.
Concerning the issue of uprooting, it is important to notice that there
might be a sharp disagreement between the Rambam and the Rashi about
a private individual writing of the Oral Law. From Rashi (in Gittin,
ibid.) we have already proven that writing to the public, like a book of
the Aggadah of R' Yochanan - mentioned there, is a clear prohibition. But
when it is not for publication but for personal records and use, it
seems to be permitted. And that is the concept of "Megillat Setarim"
(in Shabbat 6b and Baba Metzia 92a) which is a hidden scroll not meant
for the public eye. And that is how the Rambam regards it, saying (in
the previous paragraph) that the leaders as well as the simple students
had used to write the Oral Law for their private use (before Rebbe's
Mishna). The Rambam does not seem to find any fault with that practice.
But Rashi (in both places, ibid. in his commentary to the concept of
"Megillat Setarim") seems to say that even writing for personal use, was
considered a sin and therefore they would (out of shame or because it was
minimizing the damage and "Chillul Hashem") hide this written material
or putting in the "Genizah" (like a pasul - not kosher Sefer Torah).
According to this, Rashi holds that the very act of writing is a sin.
But the Rambam does not see any problem as long as the Oral Law is
not taught through publications in writing. Furthermore, as mentioned
previously, according to the Rambam there might be no sin or prohibition
at all, it is just a matter of priority and tradition, that what was
given in Sinai orally should be kept that way as long as possible,
when transmitted to the students. This, understandably, according to
the Rambam there is no problem whatsoever, in writing per se when not
for teaching purposes.]
This sicha is brought to you by Yeshivat Hakotel - The Wohl Torah
Center - Old City of Jerusalem, Israel
To subscribe, send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The HaRav Steinberger Rambam archives can be found at
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Date: Sun, 11 Feb 2001 12:03:23 EST
Subject: Re: RYBS on Piutim of RH and YK
I think I am missing something here but Lo Habayshon Lomeid,
In a message dated 2/10/01 8:10:44pm EST, email@example.com writes:
> Certainly when Adam and Chava were in Gan Eden they were brachos and
> existential imperatives. The mitzva of pirya v'rivya was given only
> after the Mabul.
Bpashtus by Noach it was to undo the Issur, the Mitzvah (which by B"N (After
Matan Torah) is Losheves vs. Pirya Vrivya) was Bpashtus the same thruout, and
see Rambam Hil. Mlochim 9:1 who makes no distinction in the MItzvohs between
Odom and Noach.
> They are existential imperatives. "B'Zeas Apecha Tochal Lechem" is
> a punishment. I once heard it explained thus. When man was supposed
> to be immortal, he didn't need to work.
What's Pshat in "Lavda Ulishamra" (Breishis 2:15)?
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Date: Sun, 11 Feb 2001 11:33:14 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Everything you ever wanted to know about Shaleshudos and: K'SheChal Erev Pesach B'Shabbos.
Since the concept of three meals on Shabbos stems from Parshas Beshalach
(last weeks Parsha), and since this year Passover eve falls on the
Sabbath, I thought it might be appropriate for me to discuss the often
misunderstood issue of Shaleshudes as I saw it related by R. Matis Blum
in my favorite sefer of the moment, Torah L'Daas.
The Gemmorah in Mesches Shabbos 117 (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate
"Sabbath") tells us that the concept of Shlosh Seudos is taken from the
incident of the Mon (manna). It is a dispute between Tanaim (Sages)
as to how to interperate the thrice read word "HaYom" whereby the
required number of meals on Shabbos is derived. The Rabbonan (Rabbis)
posit that the thrice mentioned word "HaYom" teaches that three meals
during the entire Sabbath are required. R. Chidkah states that four
meals are required and that the three "Hayoms" reffer to the DAYTIME
meals only. The Gemmarah on 118 adds that anyone who eats three meals
on Shabbos is rewarded by, amongst other things, the alleviation of the
jugement of Gehinom (Hell).
The SA (O.Ch. 291:1) Paskins (rules) that the Rabbis interpretation is the
correct one and only three meals are required. The L'Vush adds that this
is a D'Oraisa, (Biblical decree) because it is a Biblical level Drasha
(exposition) of the three "HaYoms". But the Pri Megadim holds that it is
a D'Rabbonan (a Rabbibnic and not a biblical mandate). But in any case,
the decree certainly stems from Moshe Rabbenu.
All of Klal Israel is therefore obligated to partake of three meals on
the Sabbath. This includes women as they were part of the miracle of
the Mon (manna). (Af Hein HaYah BeOsoh HaNes.) Further, Men and women
are equal in all matters of Shabbos.
The time requirement of Shaleshudos (the third meal)is after the sixth
hour of the day (about noon). Ideally one should Daven Mincha (pray the
afternoon service) first, but it is permissible to eat Shaleshudes first
if necessary. But according to most opinions, if one eats Shaleshudes
before the sixth and a half hour, one is not Yotze (does not fulfill
his/her requirement), unless he continues to eat beyond the onset of
the sixth and a half hour in the day.
There are opinions, however, that BeShas HaDechak, (under extreme,
unavoidable conditions) one can be Yotze (fulfill the Halachik
requirements of Shaleshudes) even in the morning.
Such a circumstance comes up this year on Erev Pesach which falls on
Shabbos. One may not eat bread after the fourth hour (about 10:00AM)
on Erev Pesach. How does one fulfill the requirement of Shaleshudos?
This is when many rely on the opinion that one can indeed fulfill his
Shaleshudes requirement in the morning. The procedure is as follows: one
seperates the first meal (Second Shabbos meal), into two distinct meals
with a slight break between them. One washes, eats, Bentches (says the
Grace after meals), waits, and then washes again and then eats the third
meal. This procedure enables one to eat the third meal with bread (with
Lechem Mishneh) which is the most ideal way of performing the Mitzvah.
Speaking of ideal, it is wothwhile going into the rationale of the
significance of Shaleshudes. The Kaf HaChaim in 291:3 in emphasizing
the importance of Shaleshudes, states that in eating a third meal,
which does not occur during weekdays, one shows that the purpose of the
meal is not because one is hungry but it is to fulfill the Mitzvah. By
eating the third meal one shows, that ALL of the meals of Shabbos are
done L'Kavod Shabbos primarily, and not just because of being hungry. If
however one does not eat Shaleshudes, then the first two meals are not
any different than any other meals that one might eat during the week.
(Note: in most European countries and the Mideast there are primrily two
meals, breakfast and dinner at midday. The lunch time feast is the main
meal of the day. This is slowly changing due to Western influences.)
So, ideally one (male or female) should wash on Lechem Mishneh (one can
be Motzie others in Lechem Mishneh) and if there is no Lechem Mishneh
one should try for at least one Shleima... an uncut loaf or roll, and
one should have a full meal at Shaleshudes. If one is so full from lunch
that he/she is unable to do so, then he should eat a K'Beitza or at least
a K'Zais of bread. But if one is disgustingly full to the extent that
further ingestion of any food would be disgusting to the point of pain
(an Achila Gassah) then he shouldn't eat at all, as Shabbos meals were
given to enjoy and not for pain. One should be careful not to eat so
much during the day so as to reach this point (MB and SA).
If one has room for some food but cannot handle bread, or there is no
bread available, there are those Poskim who Paskin that one can be Yotze
There are some Poskim who say that one can even be Yotze with "things that
are eaten with bread" such as meat, fish and fruit. This is another way of
fulfilling the requirement of Shaleshudes K'SheChal Erev Pesach B'Shabbos.
The Shelah states in the name of the Zohar that R. Shimon Bar Yochoi would
be Yotzie Shaleshudes by being involved in Divrei Torah. This is perhaps
another way of fulfilling Shaleshudes K'SheChal Erev Pesach B'Shabbos.
But... the Aruch HaShulchan states unequivically that MeIkkar HaDin, bread
is required based on the the positions of the Rif, The Rambam, the Rosh,
the Tur, and the SA, that Shaleshudes can only be fulfilled through bread.
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Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2001 08:50:17 +0200
From: "Carl and Adina Sherer" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Everything you ever wanted to know about Shaleshudos and: K'SheChal Erev Pesach B'Shabbos.
On 11 Feb 01, at 11:33, Harry Maryles wrote:
> The procedure is as follows: one
> seperates the first meal (Second Shabbos meal), into two distinct meals
> with a slight break between them. One washes, eats, Bentches (says the
> Grace after meals), waits, and then washes again and then eats the third
> meal. This procedure enables one to eat the third meal with bread (with
> Lechem Mishneh) which is the most ideal way of performing the Mitzvah.
I think it's better to get up and go for a walk between the meals so
that you have more of a hefsek. Otherwise, you could just be
causing yourself extra brachos.
> There are some Poskim who say that one can even be Yotze with "things that
> are eaten with bread" such as meat, fish and fruit. This is another way of
> fulfilling the requirement of Shaleshudes K'SheChal Erev Pesach B'Shabbos.
We usually eat a stew around mid-day, which is also what we do
when Erev Pesach comes out during the week. It avoids the
problem of having foods that you are going to eat l'shem mitzva at
the seder, but it's filling (potatoes :-) and it helps the kids hold out
until we reach the seuda late at night.
Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for our son,
Baruch Yosef ben Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.
Thank you very much.
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